Savory Baked French Toast Croque Monsieur (with Ham and Cheese)

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I don’t really understand the marketing of Mother’s Day. I see all these floral pastel cards and delicate lacy handkerchiefs and early morning breakfast in bed and advertisements for “brunch” and “afternoon tea” with fussy hats implied. Let me set the record straight. I am a mom, and I know a lot of moms. An informal survey of what our ideal Mother’s Day would look like involves 1) sleeping in; 2) a pedicure with some celebrity gossip magazines; 3) sushi; 4) chocolate and 5) lots of wine. Maybe this holiday doesn’t sell so well on a greeting card, but it sounds pretty awesome to me. Too awesome to be an also-ran Mother’s Day. Maybe I will name it something else, like “Saturday”. And it will fall once a week.

If your Mother’s Day veers towards the more traditional, or you’re trying to fill the time between pedicures, sushi and wine, try cooking brunch at home, and avoid the overpriced and overcrowded restaurant brunch options. (For more on this, see Brooke of FoodWoolf’s insider’s take on the restaurant Mother’s Day brunch. If you’re not feeling confident in your hollandaise sauce, or you’re a late sleeper yourself and don’t want a giant fuss in the morning, this is the brunch dish for you.

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It’s a variation of a baked french toast dish that you might have seen before — eggs, dairy, a rich bread. But instead of going the sweet route, like most baked french toasts, I go savory, and make it French toast, with the addition of ham and gruyere cheese, reminiscent of a croque monsieur. The dish can be assembled the night before, and in the morning, all you have to do is pop it in the oven, put on a pot of coffee (Moms like coffee, too), arrange some fruit on a plate, and serve it with a smile.

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It won’t hurt if it comes with a spa gift certificate, a bottle of champagne and a box of chocolates, either.

Savory Baked French Toast Croque Monsieur (with Ham and Cheese)
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
  • 1 loaf challah bread
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 c. milk or half and half
  • 8 oz. thick cut smoked ham, cut into cubes
  • 5 oz. gruyere cheese, grated
The night before:
  1. Slice the challah into approximately 8 slices, and lay them in a flat layer in a 10x13 dish.
  2. Sprinkle the ham cubes and cheese over the challah.
  3. Mix the eggs and milk together, pour over the bread, ham and cheese. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
The morning of:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the french toast, uncovered for 30 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed.
inspired by my friend Kas's sweet baked french toast



9 comments to Savory Baked French Toast Croque Monsieur (with Ham and Cheese)

  • Challah bread makes the best French toast. This looks like the perfect make ahead dish for Mother’s Day. I’m with you- a pedicure, sushi, chocolate, wine- who could ask for a better day than that?!?

  • I posted a stuffed french toast with brie the other day. I will try your cheesy recipe next time!

  • Margarita

    I completely agree with you – the IDEA of Mother’s Day (in the traditional sense) *sounds* like it would be nice, but really, I don’t want to dress up and watch my four year old at a mom-and-daughter tea party. I just want to relax. Have eggs and bacon. Perhaps a massage would be nice (dreaming here).

    My biggest present is my kitchenaid mixer this Mother’s Day, that’s good enough for me :)

  • This looks like a good dish for breakfast when company comes for the weekend. I wonder if it could be made with Sherry Yard’s brioche loaf, a recipe I’ve been longing to try.

    Last weekend I made half a smoked ham – unglazed and NOT spiral sliced – from a John Martin Taylor’s recipe, which was embedded in his blog and called City Ham. It was delicious, and as JMT says, you end up with the “culinary currency” of a ham bone.

    I still have enough ham to make your recipe over the weekend. Have a nice Mother’s Day.

  • I’m riding your wavelength… I have my baked french toast in the fridge ready to go tomorrow morning, as I have house guests tonight. I’ll have to try your version next time!

  • Do you ever make strata? That’s my favorite make-ahead brunch dish. My mom has a recipe for one with lots of sauteed veggies, cheese and an eggy mixture poured over bread cubes.

  • Looks amazing! I adore make-ahead breakfast casseroles, but I do usually go for the sweet, cinnamony french toast version. This looks so tasty though, I’ll have to give it a try! I usually like a bit of dijon mustard with my croque monsieur, I wonder if stirring some into the custard would be yummy?

  • Kate, thank you for this recipe! I’m going to pitch this to my family clients (always trying to make new things that are kid friendly). If it flies, I will give you all the credit! xo

  • Casey

    Wow, great recipe! Excellent results at home when I made it. I just replaced the ham by some Spanish iberico de bellota ham, also called black hoof or pata negra for an improved and more refine taste. Definitely one recipe to keep on my cooking book.

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